Monday 24 May 2010

Bowled Over

Well did you miss me?
My dear son took my laptop to bits and found a bit had snapped off inside. It wasn't an important bit but was causing a short with the screenlight connection (or something) and when he put it back together it worked.
Isn't it amazing that Hewlett Packard who wanted to charge me £250 for a repair had not spotted that on the two occasions they had it in for repair under guarantee?
Isn't it also a shame that my son, who is a wizard with electronics and computers but hasn't got the necessary bits of paper, can't get a job doing that?
(Update a whole year later: He has a job now, doing exactly that!)

Well you can see what I've been doing..more feltmaking.
After a disastrous attempt at using an inflatable ball to felt round I tried a different way . Felting round a huge circle of plastic and then using the ball to mould it.
It was a LOT of hard work I can tell you. Trying to shrink the sides in so they were smooth and round was difficult. Its about the size of a football.

My intention was to make it large enough to be stitched into, but as I have never managed to get such a lovely edge before, I'm keeping it just as it is, there's no cutting going to be going on here.
 No, I made another one for that job.
Well. Easy. I knew how to do it so I just made another.

 I must weigh it to see how much wool I've wasted.

You may have noticed the  stone/moss/sea colours? I am trying to evoke the colours of The Burren coming down to the sea in Clare after my trip there in March.
Its my 'Peace Comes dropping Slow' bowl.Or maybe 'Wondering Aengus'
I am working to add some vaguely Celtic shapes around the edges.

The colours of the felt are just right for what I want, and I'm so pleased to have achieved it almost accidentally by using a base of white which came through with all the rubbing and rolling, and has given it a sort of smokey feel.

I had a bit of mossy green velvet to add to it.

My plan is to place a few of these around the opening.
But in a way its almost a shame to spoil the simplicity of the bowl.

I rather like its plain softness. Perhaps a little bit of handstitch on the bowl before I add the shapes will blend the elements together a bit.

Anyway its not all Celtic subtlety here and you might have spotted a more colourful piece of felt in the top picture on which I let loose my imagination. .

Such fun, and I'm not done yet.

The trouble is I am struggling with my eyes and have new glasses on order. They can't come soon enough.
There is such a lot to feast my eyes on at the moment.
From the gorgeous shades on the, as yet ,unspoiled side of the Stream that runs through the woods

To the unexpected bits of splendour in the town.

Now for an SOS.......
Do you have any unwanted Natesh Titania shade no 953, 'Lagoon'?
But it has to be the old version from about 18 months ago?
The new version is so pale as to be useless for my purposes. The old one had several distinct shades of pale turquoise, lime and greeny blue.
I'll pay money......

Monday 10 May 2010

In the interests of balance.

You may remember I won the Dorset Cereals BlogAward in November thanks to all those who voted. I won a lovely big box of their goodies which I really do enjoy(Otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned it)but now they have contacted me to say that there is a competition to win a camper van pictured above.
All you have to do is go to
and enter. You do have to fill in a form so I don't know if you'll get e mails from them in the future but there, I've shared it with you and now you know.

Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my last post.
I was quite pleasantly surprised at the interest that my dad's letter stirred up because it was quite an emotional post for me .
I am so enjoying these letters mostly from my Mum, which provide a commentary on her life 40 years ago.

She is 82 now and still as lively and funny and loving as she was then. Reading the letters has made her happy and re awakened memories which died with my father.

In the interests of balance, and to keep the related posts together, I thought I would post a few excerpts from some of her many letters , a dozen or so of which I still

Again,I completely understand if you do not find them as interesting as I do!

Unfortunately she was in the habit of writing just the day but not the date so much of the ordering is guesswork.

I'll start with one which shows her side of the 'Proud father' in my last post.

‘As you know Dad collected your-our picture and it looks super. You will never know how much pleasure it has given us already. Dad is so proud of it and every time he comes into the dining room he goes up to it and stares at it and he will say to me ‘Just looking at it makes me happy-if it was signed by Rembrandt I couldn’t be happier with it’

He is dying to show it off to people. ‘D’ and ‘G’ say it looks wrong in our dining room and it would be much better on their wall!!!’

Then begins the saga of the Arran sweater which she knitted for my brother.
(With a bit of news I couldn't resist including ..after all it was 1970 and a bit of a scandal!) I must just tell you that she was really not keen on animals and just about bore the presence of the two cats I adored, Emma, and her daughter, Scruffy.

‘Lately he has been begging me to knit him an Arran pullover and we were talking about it yesterday at dinner time and I said I might go to the shop in Hawksbury drive, which I did. I was looking at the patterns, undecided which to have when the lady said ‘have you got a son, Paul?’ I assured her I had and then she said, ‘Oh this is the one he wants-he said I had to tell you’. Fancy, he had been in to choose a pattern. I started it last night and got the rib done and quite honestly I reckon that’s all will get done because I don’t even understand half the stitches let alone do them.

By the way I saw J***** P****** -with her pram!’

Later that year:

A Sunday in Nov 1970

‘I’m hoping to get on with my knitting this afternoon. I can only manage about 5 rows a night so its going to take an awful long time.Oh dear I’ve just looked in the oven and burnt my finger and the apple pie has run over into the meat-let hope dads currant cake doesn’t overcook!’


‘I am very busy knitting battling on with the Arran sweater and I’m just getting into it , but the trouble is I keep losing my cable needle and if I leave it for long I forget the pattern and its dreadful to get going again.’


Dec 1970

I did quite a lot of knitting last night in fact too much. I had to pull 13 rows back. But how can you concentrate with two cats on your knee, one chewing your wool and the other your knitting needle?

Later Dec 1970

I must get on with some knitting. I haven’t done any for a bit and Ellen has nearly finished hers and my goodness Christmas will be here before we know where we are and I haven’t done one bit of shopping yet. Enclosed is £1-soon be coming home time –lovely.


‘I am having a night off from my knitting tonight .I have washed my hair and written to Grandma and now its your turn. I told Paul what you said about your Christmas present and he said ‘She can start saving up for a Ben Sherman shirt’.

Final reference in my collection of letters:

‘I am still battling with the Arran sweater I suppose it will get finished sometime.’

I know it was eventually finished and was lovely. But I don't know what happened to it. Itwasn't the one in the picture but probably a contemporary of it.

I shall have to ask my brother.

And just so you know I have always been prone to untidiness:

Dad made Paul and I laugh the other day. He was in one of his tidying up moods and nattering at Paul for his untidiness and then said ‘God knows what it will be like when Jacqueline gets home’

Apparently they all exploded with laughter at this point. I think it would be at the realisation of the futility of clearing the decks when I was due home.

Friday 7 May 2010

A very long post you may not want to bother reading.

Its over a week since I added a post so this is a bit of a news post. Possibly over long.
You may need a drink .
I don't expect you to stay with me for the whole thing but I must get it off my chest. In chronological order.

First: I tidied my sewing room and guess what I found under the table?
My scissors.
Regular lurkers and commenters will remember that I had to buy a new pair.
Well two pairs are better than one.

Second: We went to Flookburgh for a walk.
Its on Morecambe bay and the landscape is velvety and wet but I thought these pictures of the salt marsh were very luscious.

Little streams and puddles make strange shapes in the grass and reflect the sky like mirrors with furry frames.

Third: I am still without my laptop and as I have no intention of paying £250 to get it repaired there is no answer. I wrote to the MD of HP in Berkshire, and received a call from South Africa which told me they will log my complaint but can only offer me an out of warranty repair at £250.
I will take it to a private person (possibly one of my sons) and see what can be done. If I shine a very bright light on the screen I can just about see whats there so I've saved everything onto and external HD. Meanwhile there will be fewer posts/comments/emails from me.

Fourth: If you have been reading a while you may remember that I went to an Iris farm this time last year and spent £20 on 4 iris. Well, being the useless gardener I am I left them in their pots by the back door all year, until about two weeks ago when I noticed they had sent out some lovely new leaves and thought it was about time I planted them in earth.

I may as well have said 'laid them to rest' as in 'Dido's Lament', because a week after the planting this is the result. One is half eaten, one is completely eaten , one is chopped off at the base and the fourth has vanished. Hence the pellets. the only colour I have in my garden.

Please do not speak to me of beer traps, torches at midnight, copper strips, eggshells, hens, pet hedgehogs.......the slug and I have history.

Fifth: I received a wonderful parcel from the delightful Dot of Dots Life and Art in Australia containing the most amazing piece of embroidery. There were also beads and buttons and some gorgeous embellished fabric she has made with an incredible collection of fibres. Thank you so much Dot I love it and hope you got my e mail saying so.

Sixth: I am receiving lots of e mails from my lovely blog friends and contacts to tell me that I have had a mention in Quilting Arts Daily. Thank you all who contacted me to tell me.
I wouldn't have known.

(Are you still with me?)

Seventh: When my kiddywinks were little boys I made them one or two items to wear, one of which was Aprons. They were lovely aprons with applique cars and names and so on. I had been thinking about these and decided to blog about them sometime and perhaps make some more to sell online and resolved to search for them.

Meanwhile I went to the Post Office to get some esty stuff sent and was in the queue behind a tall young woman posting a load of parcels all over the place.
I got chatting and it turns out she has a children's clothing website .
Then she said 'How are the boys?'. I was surprised because I didn't recognise her but she is a girl I taught and her brother is a friend of my son..
She said ' I always remember those little aprons you used to make for us when we had a birthday party. I'd love one for my little boy.'

Isn't that funny? But then I came home and looked in all the places I can think of which are sooooo full of junk and just can't find the aprons, but I found a load of letters from my Mum from when I was at college. All in her lovely handwriting. It brought Cathy's post home to me.

They are so lovely because they give a glimpse into our our lives and what they and I were up to as well as my brother, who was desperate for a Ben Sherman shirt at the time! They were in their early forties then, so its a lovely picture of their lives as 'young' people with teenage children 1970-72.

My dad wrote to me once which must have been in response to my asking him to, and it was so delightful and so very him.
I wonder if I should share it with the blog world? Perhaps I will and if you don't want to read it you can pass. I just love it and set the background for you first:

I was in my second year at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, staying in 'approved lodgings' which basically meant with a family who had been vetted by the college. I shared with a friend a tiny room with two single beds a desk and two chairs. The family were very nice but we were students and didn't want to get up early for breakfast with them, or come in before midnight. We may as well have been from a different planet. It was Winter. We were cold and miserable and Northern.

Here are some excerpts from his very long letter:

'There, see , your plaintive little PS has wrung at my heart strings so I've got my quill out and the pepper, and yer I be! Mum is busy knitting an Arran sweater for P*** or me -depending on how big it is when its finished!! No actually its lovely really, all diamonds and bobbs-I think she's very clever but I will be glad when it is finished 'cos I'm fed up of being 'shushed' every time I open my mouth. she was even shushing the folks on the telly the other night!!! I suppose its a difficult pattern but I'm sure Paton and Baldwins never had this trouble.


The college authorities are certainly sending you far afield for your TP this time. still Mitcham looks as though it is a reasonable area and the kids won't be too tough. I'm only going by the map of course but it doesn't look too bad although it might be an awkward place to get to by bus-do you have to go to Kingston and change?

Your social diary sounds very full these days and I'm glad you are getting into the outside world a bit more but (here
comes the fatherly bit) do be careful love, there are some queer characters knocking about as you well know. still I have no fears in that direction but you know I have to hand out the good advice occasionally!!!!


I'm glad to hear that you are going on an archaeological dig next week. Work hard at it and then you can go on another dig in the garden next summer.! I suspect that the building contractor on the site you are going to has set the rumour ab
out that there are Roman remains in the area. No, don't make mock, just think of the money he'll be saving if you dig the footings and all he has to do is fill 'em with concrete. If the finished pattern of the dig looks like the shape of a house, demand time and half wages or threaten to fill it all in again!


I've been to the town hall in Lancaster today connected with work of course and I got some bits and pieces for the car at a garage there. I know you are not interested really but I can tell you and you can't say 'so what?' or 'Big deal' like Mum and Paul. Anyway its filled a few more lines hasn't it-dead clever, what!


I expect Mum told you about having your picture framed didn't she? The "Framer in chief at *****' said that a black frame wouldn't look pictorially right with a predominantly black picture (and he should know, after all he's been a blacksmith all his life, or nearly all of it) so we had a white frame. It looks lovely mind you and we are both so proud of it. When anyone strange (and I don't think that's quite the right word) calls, we don't say anything but we both will them to look at it. If that doesn't work we try to draw their attention to it-nothing obvious mind you but it never fails-I think its the sight of your Mum doing a hand stand on the picture rail that eventually catches the eye!!! Seriously I think its a beautiful piece of work and I could sit and look at it all night, which I frequently do.


The social committee are holding a firework display at ******* tomorrow night and I went to Southport to collect the fireworks £22-10-0's worth. Looking at the size of some of the rockets I shouldn't be surprised if they drag half of S********** Lane into orbit. If the weather is as bad tomorrow night as it is tonight we'll never get a match to light never mind the fireworks.

He finishes off by telling me he wants to get me a new winter coat to keep me warm and will stick his neck out and send £20 so I can buy one 'down there'. (London)

I have to report I bought the most bizarre Biba coat. Long, tightly fitted, Khaki with little black velvet Fleur de Lis all over it and with Sherlock Holmes type flaps on the shoulders, a stand up collar and fly front. Totally unsuitable for warmth but incredibly fashionable at the time. It got some funny looks when I wore it in my home town, Preston, during the holidays I can tell you. I have trawled the net for an image but I just can't find it.

I hope you don't mnd my indulging myself with those excerpts. Its like hearing his voice again and was a bittersweet experience for my Mum and I . We read all her letters which were full of news and very entertaining, and she was happy to be reminded of the busy house and busy life she had, of my brother's teenage years , and his social activities and most of all of her life as a wife and not a widow.

If you have been, thanks for reading.

st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Dear Anonymous.....

....don't waste your time...I have a spam filter.